January 19th, 2014
11:40 AM ET
9 years ago

U.S. lawmakers: Winter Olympics aren’t safe

Washington (CNN) - Members of both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees say they are extremely concerned about security surrounding next month’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said he wouldn’t go to the games himself – “and I don't think I would send my family,” he told CNN’s State of the Union.

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Russia has created a large security zone around the games, brought in thousands of extra police and troops to provide security and is spending billions of dollars to try and keep the games safe. But a pair of December bombings in the city of Volgograd that killed more than 30 people have raised concerns about attacks on the games.

“It's a very serious fear because the Olympics are being held in an area where there's a history of terrorist activity, where there's been a lot of tension between Islamists in that area and the government of Russia,” King said.

Former director of the Central Intelligence and National Security agencies, Michael Hayden, however, disagrees with King's assessment. When pressed if he thought Americans would be safe at the upcoming games, Hayden said he trusts Russia's ability to provide security.

"I think Americans will be quite safe," he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has pledged that visitors will be kept safe at the Olympics, due to start in less than three weeks. In an interview with half a dozen Russian and international broadcasters, Putin said about 40,000 members of Russia’s police and security forces would be guarding the events.

"We will try to make certain that the security measures are not intrusive or too conspicuous, so they are not too noticeable for the athletes, the Olympics' guests or journalists," Putin said.

"But at the same time, we will do our utmost to ensure that they are effective."

The FBI announced earlier this month they would be sending special agents to Sochi to assist the Russians in counterterrorism. Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, also called on the Russian government to be more cooperative with the United States on intelligence sharing ahead of the games.

“Their level of concern is great, but we don't seem to be getting all of the information we need to protect our athletes in the games. I think this needs to change, and it should change soon,” Rogers told CNN's "State of the Union."

Former C.I.A. Director Michael Hayden, however, disagrees with King's assessment.

When asked if he thought Americans would be safe at the upcoming games, Hayden said he trusts Russia's ability to provide security.

Filed under: Angus King • Mike Rogers • Russia
soundoff (47 Responses)
  1. Tampa Tim

    A few months ago, baggers were shouting praises for Putin. He could have won the GOP nomination. Now they don't think he can handle security. Baggers are funny critters to watch.

    January 19, 2014 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  2. ChrisM

    Uh Oh, Putin cant secure the Olympics without the help of the U.S. FBI. Does anyone see where this is leading? Mr Traitor himself, bye bye Snowden

    January 19, 2014 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  3. yolanda

    @Tampa. Yet again your insight and observations bring so much to any discussion. Thanks for sharing your wisdom and sense of community with all of us. Your posts are so constructive......

    January 19, 2014 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  4. logic

    Putin's a tough guy. He can defend them all with one hand tied behind his back. Stay Thirsty My Friends.

    January 19, 2014 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  5. James

    In one short sentence US law makers are full of it. Anytime a major event goes to countries like Russia and China they find an excuse to try to reck the event. Shameful, really.

    January 19, 2014 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  6. Tampa Tim

    Yo! Landa – I have yet to read anything constructive from you baggers. Insight and comprehension are not something you read in bagger posts. However, if I want to hear what insanity Hannity is spouting, I only need to read bagger posts.

    January 19, 2014 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  7. Kay

    Putin must have given the Olympic officials one HECK of a huge bribe to get the games.

    January 19, 2014 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  8. Tampa Tim

    Can anyone find a post from Yo! Landa that did not attack our president, our government, our workers, our veterans, our seniors, our uninsured, our poor people? Please let me know the date, because I can't find any.

    January 19, 2014 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  9. K. A.

    Considering what happened at the Boston Marathon, I don't think the House and Senate Intelligence Committee is in any position to talk about Russia not being secure enough. But they have to keep the fearmongering going in order to justify all the $$$ we spend on "intelligence" and "security."

    January 19, 2014 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  10. Bob

    Today any large sporting event is a target – the Super Bowl, the Daytona 500, World Series. Those I mentioned all have less security. So, the question is: Do we let the threat of terrorists win ? If we whimper – then they have and are encouraged to know that their tactics are winning ! Part of our problem is that since the start of time life has never been
    "safe", and that our culture now is based on making everything "safe" even if it goes against my decisions, or my wishes.
    Let's see who wins. Bet you can see where we are going with the current talk !

    January 19, 2014 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  11. Richard Right

    Olympics are no safer than running a race in Boston, or being in NYC for a play. The mad, and the political terrorists threaten people in every country

    January 19, 2014 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  12. Rick McDaniel

    They seldom are. It is simply the type of event that attracts terrorists.

    So what? Your option is to NOT participate.

    January 19, 2014 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  13. Rosslaw

    As a general proposition, its just not a good idea to hold major international athletic events in a failed, third world mafia state in the first place. Jihadists are just one more reason to be less than enthusiastic about where the Olympics are being held.

    January 19, 2014 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  14. yolanda

    @Tampa, you forgot to mention all of the orphans, widows, and abandoned pets that I regularly malign.

    January 19, 2014 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  15. Paul Wilson

    You just wait and watch ! There WILL be an unpleasantness and mess. Just like the aftermath of that Boston marathon.

    It's time to fix the Olympics location permanently – or abolish the Olympics ...

    January 19, 2014 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    A bunch of puppets!

    January 19, 2014 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  17. Nunya

    James, you said the U.S. Is "just trying to find an excuse" to "reck the event." Well, tell me how many suicide bombs went off in Utah before the Olympic Games in Utah? None? What a shock. Also, it's "wreck" not "reck."

    January 19, 2014 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  18. Gary

    "House and Senate Intelligence Committees". Now thats funny.

    January 19, 2014 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  19. Kyle Guthrie

    Tim: You are out of your mind. We "baggers" as you like to call us did not and do not like putin as a rule.

    In fact, we dont give a damn about putin. We're kind of a single issue group.

    Its called, "SPEND LESS MONEY"

    We attack obama cause he is opposed to this concept.

    January 19, 2014 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  20. jennifer

    Are the Olympics still safe to watch on TV, and buy the advertised products like crazy?

    January 19, 2014 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  21. Big_D

    I pray for the sake of the children of Islam that they don't attack the Olympics. I would think the tolerance showed Islam would disappear and the only good Muslim would be a dead Muslim. This is a horrible thing for the terrorists that identify themselves as Islam to do. The people of Islam need to stand up or you will pay for the consequences of their actions. I don't think it is fair just or right, I think it is just obvious.

    January 19, 2014 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  22. Crampon

    If the Islamaradicals pull off a major attack there, I think you'll see a bounty on Muslims.

    January 19, 2014 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  23. American Firster

    Sochi is safer than most cities run by Leftbians. I bet it's safer walking through Sochi than Detroit, Chicago, Oakland, or San Francisco.

    January 19, 2014 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  24. really?

    I don't think anyone is safe over there right now especially an American. Trust Russia? HA! Stay home, watch on TV. I hope our athletes don't go there. I know, a lot of training was done in preparation of the Olympics but I'd rather have an alive sister, brother, son or daughter than a dead one at the Olympics. Rio De Janeiro is the next host of the Olympics in 2016. That place is not safe anymore either – drugs and violent gangs.

    January 19, 2014 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  25. Big_D

    I think Putin will use this world stage as justification for nuking them. That is what I think.

    January 19, 2014 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
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